SUSAN WAGNER

Susan Wagner's mission is to bring a new concept to interior design. She has acquired the skills and experience to create fantastic visions in glass and stone, bridging the worlds of gallery fine arts and the functional things we use in daily life.

A native New Yorker,  Susan moved to California after receiving a degree in painting and art history from Cornell University. She became a partner in Wagner Construction, and spent ten years designing homes and acquiring hands-on experience in the building trades.

In 1982 she opened her Santa Cruz art studio, and began focusing on architectural art glass. Her work was very well-received, and expanded into free-standing glass and bronze sculpture. This then evolved into wall-mounted art, using her award-winning Art Tiles.

Unusual among artists, Susan's design approach is deeply collaborative, the result of extensive dialogue with her clients and a skilled appreciation of the architectural space itself. She personally guides a project from conception, through design and fabrication, to final installation, a breadth of scope earned by her in-depth artistic background and her earlier architectural and contractors' experience. 

Today, Susan’s work spans 30 years of diverse experience in design, fabrication and construction. Her compelling work is found in an wide variety of living and working spaces – in homes, churches, businesses, schools, historic buildings and public spaces. Susan strives to find and reveal the synergy of imagination, practicality, beauty and meaning. Her work is a marvelous addition to any space, enabling light, color and texture to capture imagination and attention.

 

 

Past projects include a multiplicity of venues such as:

  • Commissions for large-scale sculpture
  • Consultation for landscape and interior design
  • New construction and remodels using her award-winning tiles*
  • Custom designed furniture. 

References are available upon request.

 

RECENT EXHIBITIONS
(gallery art)

  • Open Studios, Santa Cruz, CA
  • Michelangelo Gallery, Santa Cruz, CA
  • Oswald, Santa Cruz, CA
  • Creative Environments, Los Angeles, CA
  • San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design, CA
  • John Wheatman and Associates, San Francisco, CA
  • Dayle Dunn Gallery, Half Moon Bay, CA
  • Roadhouse Gallery, Davenport, CA

 

Education

  • Cornell University, College of Art, Architecture and Planning
  • Centre Internationale de Vitrail, Chartres, France
  • Albinas Elskus master glass painting workshops, Oakland, California
  • Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting, London, England
  • Art Students League, New York City, New York
 

Publications

  • Santa Cruz Sentinel: "Splendor in the Glass", January 7, 2014
  • Santa Cruz Sentinel: “People” Section, March 24, 2011
  • ed+c magazine: The 10th annual LEED Guide, July 2010
  • California Home + Design Magazine: New Product Award, March 2008
  • Ministry and Liturgy: Bene Award, November 2007
  • St. Anthony Messenger: illustrations for St. Clare article, August 2003
  • Ministry and Liturgy, Cover Illustration, March 2002
  • Glass Craftsman: illustration of Holy Cross Doors, August 1996
  • San Jose Mercury News, December 24 and 25th, 1993
  • Tracy Press: “Living” Section, July 1989
  • Province Magazine: Cover illustration, June 1989

 

REVIEWS

Wow!!! There are few words that can express how BEAUTIFUL your work is installed in our clients home! Thanks again for your help on this project!
— Sara Fisher, co-owner, Indesign, for a project in the British Virgin Islands.
I hired Susan Wagner Designs for a special piece to be installed on my kitchen backsplash. Susan was great to work with, even creating a new design for me from some mutual brainstorming. The quality of her work is excellent and the artwork she created for me is the centerpiece of my kitchen. She even created a few options on the pieces so that I could see what worked best with my backsplash tile. I purchased the new fan design with the surrounding metal pieces in bronze and moss with a 2” fused glass border. It’s beautiful!
— Jody Lambuth, Carmel, CA
The tile and glass pieces just went in for the first time and it looks just awesome!! A lot more work to be done, but wow!
— Andy Knorr., homeowner, Santa Cruz, CA
We actually saw Susan’s work on a Houzz photo. My husband was intrigued with her work and since she was located relatively near our home, we made an appointment to visit her studio in Santa Cruz. We viewed her many projects and then consulted with her on the design for our back splash in our newly remodeled kitchen. Susan visited our home to see both the daylight and artificial light that would influence the color choice. She was even helpful in locating a tile contractor that could apply her art installation. Our open kitchen design is very minimal so the back splash is the focal point of the entire room. Her unique use of materials, fused glass and concrete tiles is stunning.
— Cheryl Smith, Salinas, CA
Words can’t describe the infinite joy you have brought to me. The artwork you created in honor of my Mom looks amazing in the window. My Mom always looked forward to coming to the house and I can imagine just how much she would have gone on and on about this most special piece. It really does emulate all the beauty she embodied. I’m so grateful to have found you and your willingness to take on this very personal project. All the time and effort you shared with me on this journey really comes through as I admire it in the place it was meant to be. You will forever hold a special place my heart. With warmest thanks and gratitude.
— Dana Asher, Capitola, CA
We had a great time working with Susan on the entry doors and sidelights for our home. The house design is an open arc that nestles into the hillside landscape. Susan picked up the idea of curving lines and presented us and our architect with several concepts to choose from. We picked our favorite, and Susan carried the project from concept to final installation. Our entryway is definitely one-of-a-kind and makes an impressive, welcoming statement for our guests. While visiting her studio, the concrete tiles we saw got us thinking about where else we could use her art. The kitchen backsplash was a good opportunity and we picked a bronze -colored fan tile to be installed over the stove and a row of “ginko” tiles to run the perimeter of the counters.
After we settled in we asked Susan to give us some design ideas for a natural-edged coffee table to go in front of a curved sofa. We went together to a local mill to select the perfect wood, and furniture-maker Peter Clarot fabricated the table with his impeccable craftsmanship.
— Dick and Susan Daniels, Watsonville, CA
Susan designed and built a truly lovely window for the interior of our house, replacing something that we didn’t care for. She carefully listened to our ideas and desires, showed us drawings that were surprising in their unique interpretation of our requests, and produced a piece of art that attracts comments and compliments from everyone that sees it. She is a pleasure to work with.
— Sarah Michael, LaFayette, CA
We purchased an original glass, metal, and cement sculpture from Susan for our brand new house. It’s in our living room above the fire place. We really like it. It’s a wonderful point of focus for the room.
— John Gerhardt, Aptos, CA
We first saw examples of work by Wagner Design while vacationing in California. As we were planning a major kitchen remodel we contacted them about creating a tile design for the wall behind our Wolf range and a backsplash border above the soapstone countertops. We were intrigued by the look and feel of the cement tile. Although working from California to create a design for a kitchen in Norman, OK posed some challenges, we agreed on a design using their tile and incorporating fused glass to provide color accents. The order was shipped from California and arrived with no breakage. A photograph of the assembled design was included to guide our contractor in how the install the design. We were very pleased with the design and excited to have a unique product not seen anywhere else in Oklahoma.
— Dale Wares, Norman, OK
We worked with Susan on a large church project, very complex and demanding in both structural and art content. It was a real pleasure to deal with Susan as we wrangled through the various choices and decisions to be made. She was always collaborative, never combative, and she also consistently came up with profoundly great artistic concepts. Unlike some temperamental artists, Susan was completely fine with adjusting the final product to align with our desires. The finished installation is world-class, and we couldn’t be more pleased.
— Christ Child Church, Los Gatos, CA
Our house was built in 1923 and had an old brick fireplace that did nothing for the updated living room. Susan suggested a combination of metallic look tiles and Cherry wood. We sent her the dimensions and she returned a design concept for the fireplace, mantle and suggestions for the hearth, all of which we executed to create the look you see. I have never done any tile work like this so she provided all the advice I needed including specific grout, installation instructions and even final polishing techniques. As we live in NY we bought all the suggested installation products locally and had the tiles shipped. Everything we needed came as promised and even with a few extra pieces, just in case. I would never have undertaken a job like this without her help and confident design expertise. You see a fan shaped piece in the middle of the fireplace. That was created from one of her glass fans...they are beautiful. I purchased one of the glass pieces as well and it sits on a table I made just to display it. Creates a wonderful balance of design in the large room. We get comments on the glass fan all the time and everyone who has stepped into our living room just has to go over and touch the fireplace...it just draws that attention. I would use Susan again given the need and have recommended her to friends. Great experience.
— Tom Wieder, Baldwin, NY
I bought several pieces of her work, in particular an inventive stained glass piece that involved gold leaf. This was for a redo of a room in one of our houses. I consulted with her in terms of what I needed and she was very helpful.
Susan goes beyond the ordinary with a sense of place that makes everything fit. She uses unusual materials and fits them together to produce striking and perfectly appropriate pieces. I bought several things from her for a redecorating project and they worked beautifully. I look forward to working with her when we have something more extensive to do. She has excellent taste and great craftsmanship.
— Michael Rey, Santa Cruz, CA